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Natural gas hydrate (NGH), a crystalline compound of water and natural gas, has been recognized as a vast potential energy resource for over two decades, but its commerciality has persistently remained beyond the horizon due to technical and economic hurdles.

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While exploration has slowed in many parts of the world in response to the industry’s lagging downturn, India is moving full steam ahead to encourage exploration and production on a domestic and international scale.

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Over the past ten years, oil and natural gas production has boomed. At the same time, the public has grown more concerned about the impact of energy production on health, safety and the environment. This presents an especially interesting science policy problem because of the paucity of scientific data regarding the sources, composition and volumes of air and water emissions from oil and gas operations. These data are necessary to guide emission-mitigation technology and regulation.

This presentation will examine two examples of data limitations that affect energy policy.

  • Several years ago, hydraulic fracturing was indicted for causing methane in Appalachian aquifers. However, a careful look at historic data and new geochemical studies show that most of the methane is naturally occurring, and from formations other than the Marcellus. Thus, policies simply banning hydraulic fracturing may do little to solve this problem.
  • Scientists have long known that energy production may be associated with increased seismicity and recently hydraulic fracturing and wastewater disposal wells have been implicated in the increasing numbers of small, felt earthquakes in the mid-continent. Recent research shows that a small percentage of wastewater injection wells and an even smaller percentage of hydraulic fracturing treatments are inducing earthquakes. In addition, the results of mitigation procedures implemented in Oklahoma will soon be available.
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In the past 15 years global methane hydrate research has moved from predicting general locations where deposits might occur to drilling and testing potentially commercial subsurface deposits offshore and in the Arctic. Now, the United States, Japan, South Korea and India are launching additional offshore drilling and production tests.

Why should care about methane hydrates? First, the world will continue to depend on fossil fuels well past 2040, and natural gas is the cleanest option. Second, some countries that have little indigenous energy have potentially large methane hydrate resources--Japan, South Korea and India for example. Therefore, methane hydrate production could change the dynamics of global energy trade. Finally, methane hydrates occur in low concentrations on the seafloor and in shallow subsea sediments around the world, including the arctic. Research is needed to understand the conditions under which these hydrates may dissociate and release methane.

This presentation will review the current research and field tests, and evaluate the potential for future natural gas production from hydrates.
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Natural gas hydrates are naturally occurring combinations of water and natural gas (mainly methane) that form under conditions of high pressure and low temperature. They are known to be widespread in permafrost regions and in deepwater sediments of outer continental margins. It is generally accepted that the amount of natural gas contained in the world's hydrate accumulations greatly exceeds the volume of known conventional gas reserves, and can be commercially produced by adapting existing conventional oil and gas production technology. The global resource potential of gas hydrate is in the range of many thousands of trillion cubic feet (Tcf). By comparison, the current annual global demand for natural gas is approximately 117 Tcf. While the current natural gas glut has slowed industry interest in North America, other nations are pressing forward. The 2013 production test in Japan demonstrated the technical feasibility of hydrate production, and commercial production is planned there for 2017. India, South Korea, and China are in close pursuit. The U.S. hydrate program received renewed focus in 2014.

Art Johnson

Hydrate Energy International

Kenner, Louisiana

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A 1 hour presentation. The distribution of oil and gas in subsurface hydrocarbon accumulations is in the first place strongly controlled by the types and maturities of source rocks that have generated the oil and gas. Sealing lithologies above the reservoirs (generally shales, tight carbonates or evaporites) prevent hydrocarbons from escaping to the surface. The role that these seals play in the distribution and relative quantities of trapped oil and gas is often understated. Seals are rarely perfect. Except for salt, most seals have some porosity and permeability allowing hydrocarbons to slowly leak out of the trap. Even at geological time-scales this leakage of hydrocarbons out of traps can be a very slow process. When the rate of leakage is less than the rate of charge, seals may appear effective. But there is a wide range of lithologies ranging from very good seals to non-seals. Ductile and fine-grained lithologies are the best seals. Sealing potential is less for lithologies that are more brittle, and/or more silty or sandy. Faults and fractures may be preferential leak paths, further compromising the effectiveness of seals. In areas of gas charge any (early) oil charge should normally be displaced by the lighter gas accumulating at the top of structures. The observation that in areas of abundant gas charge also oil may nevertheless be trapped, indicates that gas may leak out of traps preferentially – thus making room for oil. This notion should be seriously considered in predictions of the phase of trapped hydrocarbons in undrilled prospects that may have has access to both oil and gas charge. In the presentation examples will be shown of the dynamic nature of leakage and charge and of structures where oil has been trapped, despite abundant gas charge.
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Gas hydrates (also called gas clathrates) are icelike, crystalline solids composed of natural-gas molecules, principally methane, trapped in rigid crystalline cages formed by frozen water molecules.

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OTC is a big show. Since 1969 more than 2.2 million attendees have participated. Last year alone attendance reached 101,000, once again approaching the 1982 high of 108,000. And the city of Houston has derived over $2.5 billion in economic value during the history of the event.

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AAPG once again will have a strong presence at the annual Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), which will be held May 5-8 at the Reliant Center in Houston.

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Mystery of the deep: No one knows for sure what quantity of gas hydrates awaits discovery deep in the earth, but projections are auspicious.

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11 February, 2010 11 February, 2010 1441 Desktop /Portals/0/PackFlashItemImages/WebReady/oc-es-predicting-gas-hydrates.jpg?width=100&height=100&mode=crop&anchor=middlecenter&quality=75amp;encoder=freeimage&progressive=true
11 February 2010

Gas hydrates, ice-like substances composed of water and gas molecules (methane, ethane, propane, etc.), occur in permafrost areas and in deep water marine environments.

Gas Hydrates

Gas Hydrates
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